Australia’s cricketing show was disappointing so far in the four-match Border-Gavaskar series. The Pat Cummins-led side was outmanoeuvred by a rampant India in spin-friendly conditions as Australia contributed to its own downfall by shooting itself in the foot. Cummins left for Australia
The touring party didn’t play its natural game, nor backed the traditional strength of relying on pacers. Adding to the drama, the Australians were being psyched by the pitches in India, and its batsmen were found wanting in both mind and tactics. Those attempted sweep shots won’t be forgotten easily - as they went down by a mile in the first two Tests.
Will Indore tell a different story?
The Aussie batters were not picking the length of the spinners and their footwork was a mess. Where did those front-of-the-wicket drives and flicks disappear?
Not just the series, Australia’s place in the World Test Championship (WTC) final is under threat. If Australia, failing to recover, go down 4-0 to India and Sri Lanka defeat a struggling New Zealand 2-0, it will be India versus the men from the Emerald Island in the summit clash. Under stress, Australia will need to regroup.
If the Aussies go back to 2004, when the side finally conquered the Final Frontier, defeating India in India in a Test series, pace was its strength.
Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz adapted to the Indian conditions, bowled fuller with the new ball and sent down accurate cutters on pitches offering turn.
Of course, the surface in Nagpur suited the seamers but the Aussies also won the first Test in Bangalore which was a typical sub-continental pitch and were in with a real chance in the spin-friendly Chennai before the rain arrived.
Not only did the Aussie pacemen create pressure with their control, but also struck with their probing cutters.
Then there was the magical Shane Warne to deliver timely blows. But then, even the aggressive Warne was a strong support bowler to the Aussie pace pack.
It’s surprising that with a fast bowler in Pat Cummins as captain, Australia went into the Delhi Test with just him as the lone paceman. It was a shocking selection, where a team was moving away from its own strength.
Pacemen Scott Boland should have played along with Cummins.
Perhaps he was troubled mentally by his mother’s illness at home, Cummins was a shadow of the bowler he could be. The hostility was missing and he was not even bowling the short-pitched deliveries on a pitch of inconsistent bounce; a ploy that was so effectively employed by Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj who gave a harrowing time to David Warner.
Now that Cummins will be unavailable for the third Test, stand-in skipper Steve Smith has an opportunity to start afresh.
Australia will surely be a better-balanced side in Indore with the left-arm pace and swing of Mitchell Starc replacing Cummins and Cameron Green adding much value to the side with his pace and lift along with his dependable batting.
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